There is much more to Britain than the English capital. I think you’ll agree!
England has numerous large cities in the north of the country. You have Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool to name but a few. All of these cities are absolutely world class.
So here’s my guide to why these are the best cities to visit in the north of England and what you can expect there.
When thinking of Sheffield, the Arctic Monkeys almost always spring to mind. They are for all the city’s greatest sons. However, with the boys behind Do I Wanna Know taking a hiatus, you will need to find other things to keep you engaged and amused. Luckily there is plenty.
The Crucible Theatre holds a very special place in the world of sport. For those that don’t know, the Crucible is the home of the prestigious World Championship of Snooker, which attracts thousands of spectators every April. Ronnie O’Sullivan is every bit as entertaining as Alex Turner. If you were to have a gamble on snooker you would see that the defending champion is already way out at the front as the overwhelming favourite, much like the Monkeys in the album charts!
Just like Sheffield, Liverpool has an iconic and ground-breaking band. The Beatles revolutionised the music industry around the world. Never before had we seen a band with such a universal fanbase; the fever pitch that the Beatles created is only comparable to the madness that surrounds One Direction wherever they go.
Liverpool are rightly proud of the musical geniuses that put them on the map and their mark on the city is something that can still be seen today. For any Beatles fan a trip to the Cavern Club, the place where they first started to come together as a band, is a must. Pictures from over the 300 gigs they played at the venue adorn the walls, as well as other Beatles memorabilia. Besides the Cavern, you can go and visit the childhood house of John Lennon and the real-life inspirations to Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. To finish off the Beatles tour, you should also head down to the Albert Dock and visit The Beatles Story Museum.
That brings us nicely onto the Albert Dock. Not only was it the first structure in Britain to be built out of cast iron, brick and stone, rather than wood, but its opening in 1846 made it the first non-combustible warehouse system in the entire world. Despite the shipping industry in Liverpool virtually being non-existent, the docks still play a pivotal role in the Liverpool economy. Where there was once ships there are now tourists. Attractions include the Tate Liverpool art gallery and the Merseyside Maritime Museum, while there are numerous restaurants and bars to relax and unwind in.
A short work from the docks is the Baltic Triangle. Here the creative and pioneering minds of Liverpool gather and it is also the location for the awesome District nightclub.
Manchester and Liverpool have had a rivalry that goes back decades, perhaps even centuries. If you ask a Mancunian whose music scene was the better they will immediately say Manchester. For you see Liverpool may have given us The Beatles, but Manchester gave us acid house, the second summer of love, and everything else associated with the Madchester scene.
The musical alumni that have come out of Manchester is nuts. The Smiths, Joy Division, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Oasis and, more recently, the 1975 have all come up and through the Manchester music scene. Granted they never gave the world the Beatles, but they did give the world Morrissey, the Gallaghers, Ian Brown and even Bez!
With music flourishing in the city you really should go and check it out. It has been over 20 years since the Hacienda was at its zenith; it really was one of the hottest tickets in the music world. Nowadays, the venue does not function in the same way it once did, it is currently going under the guise of Fac51. But despite the change in name and musical direction it is still one hell of a venue.
Artists from the north of the UK flock to Manchester to try and get themselves supplanted into their music scene. As such, in most bars you can find some sort of live music going on. Places like SoundControl are perfect if you are hoping to catch a band that could be on the verge of making it, whilst the surrounding Oxford Road area is awash with hipsters and the like.
The Manchester/Liverpool rivalry intensifies when sport gets brought into the question. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Liverpool were the best football side in Europe. However, since the 1990s Manchester United have surpassed them and established themselves as the hegemonic actor of the Premier League.
United play their games at the hugely impressive Old Trafford stadium, which houses just shy of 76,000 people. With players like Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria and Juan Mata plying their trade for the club it makes for a hugely exciting afternoon.
As quick as United overcame Liverpool’s record title haul they were faced with a new threat, a threat even more local than their Merseyside rivals. Manchester City, often thought of as United’s lesser neighbours, have established themselves as a seriously good side, and it is they who are the current defending champions. Their Etihad Stadium is as equally impressive as Old Trafford. If anything, the sky blue colour scheme used actually makes the stadium more aesthetically pleasing than their rivals.
Sport and music is the lifeblood of Manchester. It is what makes this city great, and going to either their sporting or music institutions leaves long-lasting memories.
We now finish nicely with Leeds, another city that has a rivalry with Manchester. Rivalries don’t come much more historic than the Lancashire (Manchester) and Yorkshire (Leeds) rivalry. Whereas most rivalries usually come about through sport, this rivalry has its roots in the British monarchy. The War of the Roses between 1455 and 1485 saw the house of Lancashire and the house of Yorkshire combat one another as they sought to win the English throne. In the end it was Lancashire who prevailed, had they not England would have never had a certain Henry VIII and could arguably still be a predominantly Catholic country today.
Leeds is a historic city that can be traced back to the fifth century, so it is of little surprise that there is plenty of historic places to visit. The Royal Armouries museum in the city centre is wicked; featuring weapons from all over the world.
If you were hoping for some fresh air then you should trek to Roundhay Park, which is one of the largest in all of Europe, or you could catch some cricket at Headingley Cricket Ground. Both Yorkshire, the greatest ever county cricket team in Britain, and England play their matches there. Also, Headingley is where most of the students congregate, so the nightlife is pretty sweet. If you fancy drinking with an older clientele, Call Lane is beckoning.
In sum, the north of England is brilliant. Besides London and Birmingham, which is the Midlands, any city of real note in England can only be found in the north. The people are always up for fun and the things to do and see always keep you engaged.